The Great Australian Ride
Locked in our hearts is a longing to live deeply, fully and with purpose and joy. To know and be known, to be concerned with another and make a true difference in the world. In this life of giving and receiving, we create our community, our world and ourselves. Once the key is found, life truly begins.
What started as a one man's solo ride across Australia to do a little good and get to know himself better, has turned into an annual charity event. "I am extremely proud of Team GAR and the relentless work that they pour in. It's just amazing that since 2011 this ride has raised over $480,000. People's generosity and goodwill has been overwhelming. Thank you."
After the solo ride in 2011, with the power of duplication in mind, riders were invited to join a team to cross the country from Byron Bay (most eastern point) through the Simpson Desert to Alice Springs then 1129km across the Gibson Desert to Steep Point (most western point). The invite was posted one night on Facebook, thinking that no one would be crazy enough to respond to such a gruelling ride. But they did! In no time at all we had 12 riders, a medic and a well-equipped support vehicle. With the help of media, TV, radio and newspapers across the country, we brought awareness to Sids and Kids and with that, The Great Australian Ride began to grow! The donations started coming in and before the end of the GAR, the team had raised a staggering $26,275 for SIDS and Kids. We were truly overwhelmed by the support and kind nature of all the team’s new members. We set about to form a network. The website would handle donations and provide all necessary information to our riders and supporters. 100% of funds raised would go directly to Sids and Kids, who receive less than 5% government funding and rely on public donations. Sids and Kids is dedicated to saving the lives of babies and children during pregnancy, birth, infancy and childhood and supporting bereaved families. The ride gained a large international audience, helping to showcase Australia as a premiere adventure riding destination. The growth continued into 2013 with 10 more riders banding together and with the power of numbers, we had surpassed the 2012 total before we had left Byron Bay and finished with a whopping $35,031.00.
2014 was a step up, securing our own Team GAR Nissan support vehicle. An amazing team of riders blitzed our donation target and raised a massive $68,014.00. 9 riders made it to Steep Point.
2015 was a great bunch, 2 from Estonia, 1 from Austria, 2 from New Zealand and another from the UK, this was undoubtable our most successful run to date, with zero injuries and 9 bikes to Steep Point. Tex and Bundy were our support crew, we saw our 1st GAR lady (Sabine Piller) cross on a Suzuki DR650. We tackled the technical Walkers Crossing Track and then there was Stuart’s 1st 1000cc solo run across the difficult French Line....all while raising $40,100.50 for Sids!
In 2016 we had our 1st team crossing of the difficult QAA Line and French Line in the Simpson desert. It had been a dream from the start to run a team across the Simpson Desert. We made the crossing with minimum fuss thanks to fantastic teamwork and dedication from every rider in their cause and quest. Two English riders, Paul and Andy, were passionate about raising funds for a similar charity in the UK, the Lullaby Trust. We witnessed American/Australian rider Justin Horsky muscle a GS1200 to Steep Point, redeeming the German badge after failed attempts from three previous riders. Suzuki Australia provided a Suzuki DR650 for raffle which raised $15,000 and Stuart had a crack at a west to east run in under 100 hours, unfortunately getting stopped due to a faulty wiring harness. 2016 saw a staggering $73,239.98 raised for SIDS and kids.
13th October 2016 at Parliament House in Canberra, SIDS and Kids, which began in 1977 by Kareene Noelle Fitzgerald was renamed “Red Nose”, and pledges to eliminate all preventable deaths in babies and children.
For 2017 we introduced ADVENTUREMAX! The Ultimate east to west crossing, we took on the French Line and the notorious Gunbarrel Highway. We offered break out rides for those wanting an easier ride which worked well and ensured smooth regroups in different parts of the country. The all-new 20-day itinerary was our the most exciting and demanding to date! Full of Adventure, Courage, Freedom. Another GS1200 made it across, Czech/Australian Martin Kudlik steered the big beast over 1100 sand dunes and conquered Adventuremax. Fundraising took to new heights and smashed all previous GAR efforts, topping out at $95,000 Special thanks goes to Alan Robson (KTM690) from Adelaide who raised $41,080.59. Alan took the reins as GAR’s highest fundraiser and lead the team out from Byron Bay.
Through all the great help and support this ride has firmly become an annual charity event, and well respected throughout the adventure riding community. To date GAR has raised just over $400.000. To those that have kindly donated, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your generosity has been just amazing, and we are a little lost for words! To our support crew Steve, Cheryl, Hank, Jason, Tex, John and Sarah. Thank you for your commitment to the job and the cause. You guys had all our backs, there was never a moment of doubt or regret.
As always, we'd like to make special mention to all our wonderful supporters and sponsors. You guys really do make a huge difference. Your trust and support throughout the years has been just amazing and the reality is we just couldn't get the job done without your input and advice. Massive thanks to Kamson Mechanical Services, Maxxis, Bolton Motorcycles, AVR Automotive, Rebel FM, Cope Transport, Rocky Creek Designs, Motorcycles R Us, Impact Sports Promotions, Adventure Rider Magazine, Lismore Motorcycles, Tyres for Bikes, Barkbusters, Brisbane Dirtbike Services, Foundation Dental, Itchy Graphics, Agile Insurance, JCS Motorcycles, Metal Gear, Gear Factor and Big Gun Butchers.
So, our sights are set for 2019 and there's a huge amount to roll out. I hope you like sand because there will be plenty more in the future.
Happy travels GAR
The most outstanding part of this whole experience has been the people of Australia, the true salt of the earth characters that I had the pleasure of meeting along this journey, everyones response has been positive and helpful. For years I felt that the city was draining my soul, that I was becoming an automated mortgage slave, that others around me were losing sight of what this country is really about. Thankfully my doubts have been squashed, I am proud to say that the true blue Aussie spirit is strong and very much alive!
Stuart Ball - Founder